I Choose Recovery Every Day

Tracy Brumfield / Photo provided by Creative Mornings

Tracy Brumfield / Photo provided by Creative Mornings

The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word forgiveness is the empathy and compassion I had to find for myself if I was going to put my addiction in its place—remission. We hurt a lot of people by hurting ourselves. We don’t have to harm them directly to cause them pain; we often hurt them just by suffering. I know many tried to help me but, in the end, it came down to me getting the expert help I needed to commit to treatment. Recovery is a process, not an event. And forgiving myself has definitely been a part of that process.

I had to understand my addiction is a disease. Now, I know that I didn’t give myself the disease of addiction, but there are many people out there who argue that addiction is a choice, not a disease.

Let’s unpack that idea. Did I choose to see a doctor when I started experiencing migraine headaches? Yes. Did I choose to trust my doctor? Yes. Did I choose to take what he prescribed? Yes. Did I choose to become chemically dependent on opiates, lose everything I had, go to prison, and become homeless because I had an addiction so progressed that I could no longer function in society? No.

I chose recovery, but I didn't choose addiction. Recovery has been an upward battle, addiction was a downward spiral. I became more compassionate to myself after realizing this and have been able to forgive myself. I have learned how the disease works on the brain, how it messes with your ability to think rationally, how it  progresses and gets harder to treat the longer you are using. The disease progresses to a point where choosing anything other than that addiction becomes bigger than you. It definitely got too big for me. I needed a lot of help. Asking for that help and following through is hard when your brain isn’t working rationally. I finally got the help I needed from experts, counselors, and peers.

If I want long term recovery, I have to choose it every single day for the rest of my life. As I have forgiven myself, I have realized thatI’m still a work in progress. At least now I’m progressing, not my disease. They say in recovery all you have to change is everything, focus on today, and seek progress not perfection. I can live with that.